Cyberbullying and Inappropriate Behaviour Are Education’s Biggest Social Media Fears

Research undertaken by Bloxx, a leader in content filtering and security, has found that the biggest concerns education IT executives have about the use of social media in their organisation are cyberbullying (71%) and inappropriate behaviour (71%), with productivity (66%) and viewing inappropriate content (56%) ranked third and fourth.

Despite such apprehensions, over two thirds (69%) admit that they do not monitor the social media content that is being posted on sites in their establishment. The survey of 172 education IT executives found that 34% of schools block social media completely. Other key findings include:

·  40% allow just staff to access it, and one in four (26%) give access to both staff and students.

·  A quarter of education establishments that permit social media access admit that their Acceptable Use Policy does not encompass social media.

·  44% of organisations have a social media policy for staff and students, 29% have a policy just for staff, and 2% have a policy for just students

·  Of those organisations that do not have a policy, 59% have plans to implement one.

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Charles Sweeney, CEO, Bloxx commented: “Social media is both powerful and purposeful tool for education, yet all too often it is misused causing debate and concern. The challenge is how we can unlock its power in order to create better learning environments for students without compromising their online safety. If children are to become safe and responsible users of technology, education organisations need to be vigilant. In no other environment is the industry mantra of people, process, and technology so key to protecting all users of all ages.”

IT executives also indicated that there is a low level of awareness amongst staff outside of the IT department about the potential risks of social media within education. Whilst 32% felt that staff understood social media and the risks, 39% felt that wider organisational knowledge was basic at best. A further 20% felt that whilst staff might be aware of social media, they didn’t understand the risks. Also, an additional 8% thought that staff had a little understanding, and 1% stated that staff had no knowledge of either social media or the potential risks.

In addition, the research shed light on the rapid rise of personal devices within schools. Half of those surveyed allow students and staff to bring devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops into the school environment. Just 17% do not allow any personal devices, and 28% allow only staff to use personal devices. Despite such a high influx of mobile devices, 69% did not have a BYOD policy. This could be because almost three in four (72%) filter web browsing from personal devices to help protect students from inappropriate behaviour and content.

Charles Sweeney, CEO, continued: “The demand for BYOD in education shows no signs of abating. As new technologies and trends emerge, how students interact and collaborate is only set to fragment further, bringing with it more risks. It is now an essential part of any role within education that staff have the skills and training to help them not only utilise new platforms but also be wise to any loopholes that students can exploit – unwittingly or otherwise.”

172 IT executives responded to the survey of Bloxx’s customer base between November 2014 and January 2015.

About Bloxx 

bloxxBloxx offers Web and email filtering and security for medium and large organizations in both the business and public sectors. Bloxx has achieved unrivalled sales growth year-on-year to become a leading Web filtering provider with an estimated 6 million+ users worldwide. To find out more about Bloxx Web filtering email info@bloxx.com or visit www.bloxx.com.

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